Stains on Your Pillow? 4 Types of Stains and How to Clean Them

Don’t you just hate it when you wake up in the morning and find an unexplainable stain on your pillow? Waking up to these stains on your pillow is not just weird, but also a little creepy. What are these stains seen on your pillow? How do you get rid of them?
Stains on your pillow

What causes black spots on the pillow?

Ever seen this or something similar on your pillow? Your hair is not dyed or anything, what could this be? Well, black stains on the pillow could be a result of:

  • Mold is a fungus that is formed due to moisture from poor ventilation, damp environment, and lack of sunlight. Sunlight is very deadly to mold since the UV (ultraviolet) rays in the sun destroy their structure.
  • Your eye mask and night cream could combine and bleed.
  • Bought a new satin bonnet? The dye on the bonnet could be responsible.

How to get rid of black spots from your pillow.

  • Most stains and mold can be removed from your pillow by washing or bleaching. When using bleach, use a diluted bleach solution(a mixture of one part bleach to three parts of water),
  • Test with a small part of the pillow to know if you’ve gotten a perfect concentration to avoid discoloration of the pillow.
  • Apply the solution to the stained part of the pillow with a small brush to gently but firmly scrub the stain out of the fabric. Once your solution has cleaned the stain, you need to rinse with water to remove the remnant bleach that could destroy the fabric.
  • Leave the pillow to dry, preferably in the sunlight and your pillow will be stain free.
  • If you’re worried about discoloration of your pillow, you could wash in a washing machine (check the label to see if the pillow is machine washable), add ½ cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar, and wash using a gentle cycle. Then let it dry directly under the sun. For a non-machine washable pillow, add a little lemon to the water and hand wash. You could use warm or hot water to make sure that all the stain is removed.
  • Note: To avoid black stain on your pillow from your bonnet, make sure you wash any newly purchased bonnet or scrunchies before use to remove the excess dye that could stain your pillow.

 Why do I have brown stains on my pillow?

Brown stain on the pillow is usually caused by:

  • Bed bug – bed bugs tend to arouse at night. They go for the head of their victims because they are drawn to the carbon dioxide that we breathe out. Bed bugs can leave a stain on your pillow either by biting you or by defecating on your pillow, either of which is likely to leave a reddish-brown or a brown spot. When bed bugs bite, they release an anticoagulant into your blood which prevents it from clotting normally, this would lead to bleeding which can cause a reddish-brown spot. Bed bugs can also defecate on your pillow, this leaves a brown dot on the pillow
  • Residue from your skincare products.
  • Stain from a sleep mask, most sleep masks are made in dark colors to prevent as much light from getting into the eyes as possible, if you apply your skincare at night, this may mix with your sleep mask and lead to the formation of brown spots on your pillow.
  • Night sweat
  • Drooling.

How to remove brown stains from your pillow.

  • To get rid of these brown stains, get 1 cup laundry detergent, ½ cup peroxide, ½ cup baking soda, and 1 cup of white vinegar.
  • Soak the pillow in hot water to weaken the stubborn stains.
  • Add the baking soda and vinegar, wash for a few minutes, and dry under the sun. The sun acts as a natural bleach and it’ll help bleach the pillow.

Why are there yellow stains on my pillow?

Any pillow that has foam rubber or memory foam in it will turn yellow over time, no matter what. Other yellow stains can be caused by :

  • Nicotine escaping pores and staining the pillow for heavy smokers.
  • Skincare products that contain yellow pigment
  • High level of sulfur in the body from ingesting too much sulfur-containing food (chicken, pea, nuts), or supplement.
  • Gilbert syndrome, people with this syndrome have a high level of bilirubin ( a yellow liquid waste that occurs naturally as the body breaks down old red blood cells) because they don’t produce enough enzymes to keep bilirubin at a normal level.

How to remove yellow stain from pillow

  • You need ½ cup baking soda, ½ cup dishwashing liquid, 1 cup vinegar, and a brush.
  • Apply the dry baking soda to the spot, add the dishwashing liquid, and add the vinegar.
  • Take the brush and gently scrub the area until you see the yellow stain coming off, then leave for 15 minutes and wipe with a paper towel.

Watch the illustration below:

Why do I have blue/purple stains on my pillow?

Blue or purple stains can be caused by

  • Hair dyes.
  • Oils mixing with bonnets, leading to a bleed.
  • They can also be caused by a condition known as chromhidrosis (this is a rare condition characterized by the secretion of colored sweat), people with this condition may wake up to find their pillows with blue or purple stains if they sweat at night.

How to get rid of blue/purple stains on the pillow.

  • They can be removed using enzyme-based stain removal. First start by applying lemon or vinegar to the stained area.
  • Leave for 15 minutes and flush out.
  • Then spray the stain with an enzyme-based stain treater.
  • Allow for 15 minutes for the enzyme to work.
  • Machine wash the pillow as described above, use hot water for a white pillow and cold water for any other color. Or hand wash it using a detergent and let it dry under the sun.


How do I protect my pillow from stains?

The best way to do this is to find a barrier that’ll protect the pillow from direct contact with any stain. You can use a pillow protector or pillow case for this.Can your ear stain your pillow?The best way to do this is to find a barrier that’ll protect the pillow from direct contact with any stain. You can use a pillow protector or pillow case for this.

What are stain-proof pillow protectors?

These are pillow protectors that have been treated with Teflon which makes them stain and spill-resistant. They release stains easily by simply washing them in your washing machine.

Can your ear stain your pillow?

Yes, it can, sometimes, ear wax could come out of your ear and stain your pillow.

Can saliva stain my pillow?

Drooling (saliva) can stain your pillow, sometimes even brown or yellow. This stain can be caused by acid reflux especially if you’ve been lying down.


Stains on the pillow are unpleasant, we’ve stated the different types of stains and how to get rid of them. Treat these stains as soon as possible because the longer they remain on the pillow, the more difficult they are to remove.